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You are what you eat
Research shows we waste most water at the ‘dinner table’

By Peggy Koteen

You're warned about not watering your lawn as much, and not to take long showers - but it's quite possibly what you do at the dinner table that wastes the most water.

In fact, our water supply is inefficiently used and is tremendously polluted by the animal farming industry. It's not even a debate any longer.

Growing all food requires water. However, raising animals to eat uses water that could otherwise be used to raise crops to feed humans.

Large amounts of water are used to irrigate corn, soy, and oat fields that are required to feed farmed animals.

The farmed animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply from the necessity of watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth in factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses,

According to author John Robbins, it takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons.

A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.

In the U.S., half of all water resources, plus 70 percent of all grains, 80 percent of all agricultural land, and one-third of all fossil fuels are used to raise animals for food. A legislative committee estimated nearly 80 percent of all water used in California is used in animal agriculture, one way or the other.

Meat Patty = 616 gallons of water.

Raising animals for food is also a water-polluting process. Animal waste from large factory farms threatens the water we drink and swim in, and the future of our rivers, lakes, and streams.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the runoff from factory farms pollutes our rivers and lakes more than all other industrial sources combined.

Livestock produce an enormous amount of waste.In the U.S. every second, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows in factory farms produce nearly 89,000 pounds of excrement, which is contaminated with the antibiotics and hormones that are pumped into these animals.

Corporate livestock industry's waste disposal practices - spraying it onto croplands or storing it in open-air waste pits called lagoons, as large as several football fields - often result in leaks, spills and runoff that pollute ground and surface water and create a health risk to people and wildlife.

An example of this contamination seen in CA is when the California Foster Farms Poultry plant in Merced discharged approximately 11 million gallons of storm water polluted with decomposed chicken manure into the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge between December 1994 and April 1995.

Chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland and North Carolina have washed into the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina rivers, triggering outbreaks of the toxic microbe pfiesteria that have sickened people and killed millions of fish.

(For many more examples of water pollution by cow, pig, or chicken farms, see http://ecosyn.us/ecocity/Links/My_Links_Pages/Hog_Pollution.html)

While millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages, much of the world's water supply is diverted to animal agriculture.

It is clear that raising animals for food puts a tremendous strain on our already limited water supply, and water is used much more efficiently when it goes toward producing crops for human consumption.

Every time we sit down to eat, three or six times each day, we get to choose whether to eat chicken, beef, pork, fish, and other animal-derived foods that devastate our water supply or to eat a diet based on a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables.

As we talk and debate about water, its uses and shortages, our eating habits need to be part of that discussion.